How to help your child get organized with assignments, plus, when to know if you're doing too much of your child's homework.

Dear Mrs. James,

My son does his homework (I know because I help him with it) but he never turns it in. He tries really hard. Even his teachers say it, but he has ADHD and has trouble staying organized. He's in 6th grade and getting really low grades. When I asked him about it, he said that he just forgets to turn it in. He forgets everything! Any suggestions?

We enjoy your advice,

Libby and Kellen Wilson
Columbus

Hey Guys,

Thanks for writing in! It sounds like your son is having organizational issues. This is typically the problem when children do their homework but don't turn it in. It's not even close to uncommon!

Let's work on his organizational skills. Since he has ADHD, I suggest color coding. It works wonders. Each class should have its own color. Social Studies, for example, could be red. Science could be blue. Buy a red folder and a red spiral bound notebook for Social Studies, and a blue folder and a blue spiral bound notebook for Science. He can take all of his notes, complete book work, homework, vocabulary etc. in his notebooks (instead of loose leaf paper) and keep all of his worksheets in the proper colored folder. Do the same for every other class. Make sure that the folders and spiral bound notebooks match.

He should also keep some sort of a planner. Encourage him to write down all of his homework assignments in the homework log or planner. You could also take it a step further and require him to get his teachers to initial what he writes, confirming that what he has written down for homework is correct. Once he completes it, you initial next to the teacher's initials, and make sure his homework is in the correct folder. After he completes his homework, immediately put it in his book bag. Put the book bag by the door or throw it in the car so that he doesn't forget it. Let me know how everything turns out! I hope this helps!

Keep up the good work!

Love,
Mrs. James


Hi Mrs. James,

I think I support my daughter in homework too much. She's even gotten accused of having me actually do her assignment. I think I'm a little overbearing because I didn't get much help as a child with my homework, so I think I just do too much. I'm also starting to annoy my daughter. Help me let go!

Sincerely,

Claire Kelly
Dublin

Hi Claire,

Great job identifying the problem! Let me help you out with the solution. First, remember that "support" is the keyword here. Whatever you do, do not start doing your daughter's homework (or even being accused of it), unless you want to keep doing her homework until she graduates! If you do it for her now, she will never fully develop the confidence to do it on her own.

You can support her in so many ways. (1) Avoid giving away the answer. Ask questions to help her begin to think through the problem. When she gets stuck, instead of telling her how to do the problem, say, "Tell me what the directions said again." Always give her a chance to figure it out for herself and provide scaffolding and support when needed. (2) Make positive suggestions, but don't nit-pick! If she is really struggling with writing good sentences, for example, don't pick on her handwriting efforts. (3) Lastly, don't be afraid to let her make a mistake. She's a kid and her teachers are well aware of that. Give her a chance to find herself and spread her own wings. You'll be there cheering her along the whole way! Until then ...

Keep up the good work!

Love,
Mrs. James